Car tyres Car snow socks explained
- What are car snow socks?
- How do snow socks work?
- How effective are snow socks?
Watch our video guide to snow socks
What are snow socks?
Snow socks for tyres are billed as a cheap alternative to snow chains that will help get you home if there's sudden snowfall. Our snow socks advice guide explains how they work and how useful they are.
They are a relatively new technology aimed at improving driving control on snow and ice, as an alternative to winter tyres. As the name suggests, you pull the sock over the wheel and tyre of your car, meaning no additional costs for tyre removal and fitting.
Unlike conventional snow chains, tyre socks have no metal parts. Instead, they are coated with a strong textile surface with fibres arranged at a right angle to the direction of travel, which is claimed to optimise grip on the road.
As long as there is enough room to fit your hand between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch, you can pull the tyre sock over the tyre fairly easily. You’ll need to move the car forward or back slightly to fit the sock fully over the tyre.
How do snow socks work?
Fitting snow socks to the driven wheels of your car should give it more grip on snow and ice. This is because dry snow and ice sticks to the textile surface of the snow socks, generating greater friction between the slippery road and tyre.
As water will inevitably be on the roads from melting snow and ice, snow socks are designed to wick away any water found between tyre and road, further decreasing the risk of your wheels slipping.
One thing to always remember is to remove the snow socks as soon as you reach gritted roads, as the tarmac will make them shred and fall apart.
How effective are snow socks?
We've carried out a full test on snow socks from nine different brands. All the snow socks performed better than summer tyres on snow and icy roads, but none were quite as good as winter tyres. One design was particularly poor compared with the others on test, although it was still better than the summer tyres.
We rated all the snow socks for overall performance, based on tests of braking distance, uphill acceleration, traction force and handling. Direct comparisons in the same conditions were also made with a car fitted with premium winter tyres and one fitted with premium summer tyres. We also assessed each pair of snow socks for ease of fitting and removal.
How much should I pay for a set of car snow socks?
Prices do vary, and the ones we tested ranged from £35-£80, so you should expect to pay around £50 for a pair of snow socks - they only need to be fitted to the driven wheels, so they're sold in sets of two.
They cost around the same as a cheap set of snow chains, and are only around a quarter of the price of a set of winter tyres.
It is also important to remember a number of other factors while driving in snow or ice, click here to watch our top tips video